Archive for March, 2010

Finger Lakes Summer Firsts

West side view on Skaneateles Lake

First day of spring on Skaneateles Lake

The first day of spring, March 20, 2010 brought a lot of firsts. First overnight at our cottage on Skaneateles Lake.

My first canoe ride — a week ago there was ice on this lake! Check out the video on YouTube.

Canoe ride Skaneateles

First canoe ride on Skaneateles Lake, March 20

First ice cream cone, first sunset, first campfire, first BIG night of stars, first sunrise.

March sunrise on the lake

Spring sunrise, west side of Skaneateles Lake

First ice cream cone

First ice cream cone of 2010 — Watermelon Sherbet

Spring on Skaneateles Lake

First Pussy Willows

March 26, 2010 at 3:11 am Leave a comment

Sapsucker Woods, Ithaca

Cornell's Sapsucker Woods

Melting ice on the pond at Sapsucker Woods

While approaching Ithaca from the East (Homer) we noticed a bird sanctuary just outside of town. Sapsucker Woods looked like a worthy detour. If we had done some research in advance — like visiting the website — we might have thought, “too academic, looks dull”. Good thing we make our decisions on-the-fly! Fly — don’t walk —  to Sapsucker Woods — quick! It’s a beautiful piece of land and the Visitor’s Center is really impressive.

Copy off of the web site:  “The Sapsucker Woods Sanctuary is home to dozens of bird species. It’s also headquarters for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which is housed in the Imogene Powers Johnson Visitors’ Center for Birds and Biodiversity.” This is a very quiet website, and incredibly understated as regards to how awesome this place is!

Charlie: This would be an appropriate thing to tweet, don’t you think? More upscale than Montezuma, especially this time of year, Sapsucker Woods is to Oak Hill Country Club as Montezuma is to the Elks Lodge in Henrietta, NY, not that there’s anything wrong with the BPOE. I made good money there when I was tween, checking coats. To be fair to Montezuma, I’ve not been inside their visitor center so can only use my imagination. Please feel free to debate. You’ll want to visit this website for the cool bird-related stuff: All About Birds.

Picture window in the Visitor's Center

The picture windows allow you to be close to the birds, provided you use a telescope.

Charlie and I are not birders —yet. This place could turn me into a bird nerd.

C: I’d say you’re at least half-way there, Barb.

The Visitor’s Center has a HUGE window on the left side as you enter. It is tucked right up against the pond, so water birds swim close with out being disturbed.

C: It was fun to look up the native birds on the Visitor Center Computer, listen to their songs, then walk the trails and identify the sounds. My favorite was the Barred Owl, “A large owl of extensive woodlands, the Barred Owl is familiar for its distinctive ‘who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all’ hooting.” Unfortunately, we were distracted by the ice on the trails, and heard few distinctive bird sounds, though the geese were in full territorial fury. It was fun to watch them skitter about the ice, like us. If only we’d brought our Yaktrax.

Charlie looking through the telescope

The Visitor's Center is equipped with high-powered telescopes.

There are Zeiss telescopes and wooden chairs — sit down and watch for a while. If you don’t see enough birds through the window, wander over to the wide-screen and watch breath-taking bird videos. If you’re not a hiker, the Visitor’s Center will keep you very happy.

C: I was pleased by the beaver that crashed the party. It ruffled a few goose feathers and the honking was pronounced.

We went outside to explore. The trails are well-marked and none are very long. However, I would have been happiest if we had hiked ALL the trails. It was a mix of snow, ice and mud on the trails, which made the hiking a bit treacherous. We took a shorter trail that wound around the pond and the back of the Visitor’s Center.

C: I enjoyed the photographer’s obsession with a dead frog, sunk to the bottom of the creek. Hey Barb, why didn’t you post that picture?

Ithaca, NY, Sapsucker Woods

Spring comes to the woods, or woods come to Spring.

boardwalk path

Nice boardwalks wind through the marshier areas.

leaf puddle at Sapsucker Woods

Leaves reflecting their tree.

Beavers live in the sanctuary as well

Junk food for beavers. Snack and run.

In about a month the woods will be filled with migrating birds coming to their summer homes in the Finger lakes. We still managed to see several different types of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, phoebes, cedar waxwings, cardinals, jays, purple and gold finches, a beaver and some very loud geese.

C: In about a month there will be all sorts of odd birds wandering around the center, many with binoculars and cameras.

It was the perfect combination of mental and physical exertion to create a great thirst for local brew sampling! The rest of our journey went all downhill.

C: The view heading down to the lake, and Ithaca is stunning. More on that part of the trip later.

March 21, 2010 at 4:33 pm 5 comments

Hunter’s Dinerant: Auburn N.Y.

Road Trip Sunday, March 14:

Montezuma Wildlife Refuge

Closed for the season

I now have a co-blogger, my husband Charlie, who will join me on my Finger Lakes “explore.” From this point on, this journey will never get dull. His comments are in italics.

It was a crummy, wet, cold March day. Stopped by the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge between Clyde and Auburn on Route 20. Ducks on the pond, mergansers. Grey skies and water. Ochre-colored grasses.
Sadly, the gate is closed so we can’t drive through. Happily, we walk in the drizzle and take in the wet sights and sounds.

Happily? For a duck. Even the hawks had enough sense to stay dry and warm.

Charlie mistook the telescope atop the observation deck for an owl. We’ll bring our birding book next time so he can get his silhouettes straight.

Really, I thought the telescope was an owl on lifeguard duty to make sure the ducks didn’t drown.

Charlie took films of the signs displaying photos of the rare birds that frequent the refuge. He commented that the eagles, ducks, osprey, falcons and hawks would be arriving as soon as the hospitality suite re-opens.

And why not? The visitors center looks like a private club for fowl and feather alike. They even have a satellite dish. I’m sure there’s a suet bar.

Hunter's Dinerant, Auburn NY

Next Stop, Hunter’s Dinerant in Auburn. An original-style diner car with stainless surfaces polished to perfection. Hunter’s is located at 18 Genesee St, Auburn, NY 13021, 315-255-2282. They are one of the few businesses without a website — so we will fill in cyberspace void.
Don’t let the street address fool you. This dinerant is NOT sitting on solid ground. It’s perched on steel beams above a river (apparently real estate in Auburn is SO expensive they had to create their own piece of property). Charlie talked with the very friendly chef who said that the current diner was dropped in circa 1951. There was a previous diner located perpendicular to this one prior to ’51.

I was impressed by the solid steel construction of the doors, but not the smell of the men’s room. When I mentioned to the chef that the picture of the former diner looked dilapidated, he said, “This one’s getting close.” I’d agree that the place looks a little worn but it’s a timeless treasure, and definitely worth visiting. The food is great!

Riverside view of Hunter's

Had we approached from this side, we might have been more wary!

Note: I did not see this view until AFTER we ate breakfast! Had we approached from this side I would have been more apprehensive.

This looks like a scene from Cape Fear.

If the above photo makes you nervous, the following photos should settle you right down!

Hunter's Dinerant, Auburn NY

Stainless and Peptol: perfect combo for breakfast hash!

All the wait staff were decked out for St Patrick’s Day (we arrived on the 14th), and the restaurant was tastefully decorated. The interior was “Pepto Bismol” Pink — from the stools to the counters and floors, which was a lovely contrast to the art deco-style stainless through out.


The jukebox played Toby Keith (“It’s All Good”) and Rascal Flats (“Life is a Highway).

I’d hoped to hear the Black Eyed Peas “Ba Bump.”

“De” our waitress served us hot coffee immediately and was very gracious about us taking photos and asking her questions.

Until Barb said we were writing a blog. Then she gave us suspicious looks. I think she thought it might be communicable.

We ordered a freta and the hash and eggs. I still don’t know what a “freta” is but it’s nothing to worry about — totally delicious and twice as much as I could eat. It was fritatta-like. Look at the picture and decide for yourself.

Two heart-stopping specials, and what a way to go!

eggs and hash

Eggs and hash

Breakfast at Hunters: Freta

This is a "freta"

The freta is shown on the left, hash on the right
Aren’t those eggs adorable? Both were great, very inexpensive. Notice that even our place mats were pink! If you want AUTHENTIC diner, this is the place, starting with the neon sign in front and continuing to the bottomless cups of coffee served in true Syracuse China style mugs. All of it was charming, warming and filling — especially after hiking the frigid swamp, but this next photo is the best part.

Our waitress "De"

Breakfast delivered by "De".

This is “De”. I say that “De” stands for “Delightful” — which she was. She greeted most of the patrons by name, and made sure they were seated in their preferred booth, while making sure no one’s coffee cup ever went empty. Visiting Hunter’s Dinerant is well worth the sights and the meal, however we hope that De is working when you arrive to make the experience complete.

I say that “De” stands for “Delicious” but what the heck is a dinerant? At least I did not see any diner-ants crawling around on the floor!

March 18, 2010 at 8:23 am 2 comments

Nadal Glass: Canandaigua

entrance and picture window for Nadal Glass

Nadal Glass Studio on Phoenix St in Canandaigua

While hunting for a place to eat in Canandaigua last weekend, I was drawn to a very unique display in a store window off the main road, on Phoenix Street. I walked in and there was an absolutely stunning collection of functional glassware.

Nadal Glass is a working glass studio located in a historic firehouse since 1992. The first thing you see when you enter is the retail showroom with shelves of one of a kind glass for galleries, museums and collectors.

They produce functional bowls, tableware, and vases in vivid colors — which looked even more brilliant with the sunshine streaming through the shop windows.

Jim Nadal is the glassblower and he was generous with information. He has been practicing in this area since 1972 and knows the Finger Lakes area very well.

Nadal’s work is represented in many public and private collections, including the Corning Museum of Glass, The Renwick Gallery, The Lanan Foundation, and the private collection of King Juan Carlos of Spain. Nadal’s pieces can be seen in over two hundred galleries, stores, and museum shops around the United States and Canada.

Now I can remember my visit when I look at the new ornaments hanging in my bay window, capturing and reflecting the sun.

You can see more samples at their website:

Glassware by Nadal Glass

hand crafted glass by Jim Nadal

March 13, 2010 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

Which ones are the real Finger Lakes?

I did a little research  on line and found that there are 14 Finger Lakes!

I don’t want 14 fingers, I want 4 skinny fingers and a thumb. So I am going to make a call on which 5 lakes are in MY Finger Lakes. After all, summer is short.

Here are MY five Finger Lakes:

Canandaigua “Chosen Spot” or “Chosen Place”

Seneca “Place of the Stone” or “Stoney Place”

Cayuga “Boat Landing”

Owasco “Floating Bridge” or “Crossing Place”

Skaneateles “Long Lake”

This blog is about the 5 lakes I just listed — the best sights, places to eat, stay, and cool stuff to do. Your words are as good as mine — so share!

Here are all the other lakes — that did not make the cut. Though I DO like Hammondsport.

Keuka “Canoe Landing”

Otisco “Waters Dried Away”

Canadice “Long Lake”

Conesus “Always Beautiful”


Honeoye “Finger Lying”

Oneida “People of the Standing Stone”

Onondaga “People of the Hills”

How could anyone even think this is a Finger lake?
Ontario “Beautiful Lake.”

The best part is I have an excuse to do research!

March 5, 2010 at 4:01 am 2 comments

Great Finger Lakes Information

Today’s note is simply to point you in the direction of another great blog. Dashboard Diaries has wonderful information about what to do as you travel Routes 5 & 20.

Every entry is well worth exploring through a read and a visit!

March 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

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